My coding experience began rather humbly yet unusually way back in 1996. Using my programmable TI-82 calculator in algebra class, I began modifying existing and creating new games to be played by friends and transferred to their calculators. It was a rather effective way to pass the time in algebra, a subject I hated in part because I didn’t see how it could possibly be of value. It wasn’t until years later that I recognized the irony that I was doing algebra throughout the code I was writing to avoid doing algebra.
My next consistent game development experience wouldn’t come until 2004 when I began coding for a MUD (a text-based precursor to the modern MMORPG industry) with a team of skilled developers maintaining a codebase consisting of over 120,000 lines of code in C.
That old calculator also foreshadowed the handheld experience that would come along in the WAP days and again years later as iOS and Android began to revolutionize the way we use the Internet.
While gaming and mobile took a while to come again, I was far from idle. My first taste of web development came in 1997 when a classmate gave me a book on HTML 4, and I was soon rolling out my first [hideous] website, rife with embedded MIDI files and busy tiled image backgrounds and dozens of other things that shame me today. By 2003, though, I had a little better idea of what I was doing and began doing web development professionally.
It was during this time that I began to seriously delve into the server-side platforms and languages, thus immersing myself into the world of software development. Beginning with a multi-client RADIUS authentication system with three user levels in 2004 and a wholesale VoIP billing and management platform in 2005, I was soon authoring and architecting large-scale applications processing billions of records.
I wrote and designed infrastructure for software applications ranging from inventory systems for warehouses to reporting tools for churches. In many of these projects, I had to analyze large quantities of data in a highly-efficient manner, learning the nuances of memory management and database optimization from the school of hard knocks. This gave me a unique preparation for what we’re all now calling “Big Data”, though in those days it was just a big headache, as the hardware I had access to wasn’t much better than what I keep in my back pocket today.
Naturally, with all the exposure to the industry, some general technology skills rubbed off on me. Working in the telecom industry from 2003 to 2009, I learned the fundamentals of networking, information systems, and server infrastructure, equipping me to start a web hosting company in 2006 and consult for organizations needing creative, cost-effective solutions to common IT needs like phone systems, network storage, and security appliances.
Despite the widespread experience I’ve gained using technology, I invariably return to my true tech love: the web. No, I don’t love the web more than my wife. But I’d be lying if I said that the web wasn’t a significant part of our family. From the AdWords platform I first touched in 2003 to the search engine optimization and security practices that underlie ever project I architect, I’m always about projects that allow me to be creative and challenge me to exercise my expertise within strangely shaped boxes.